What I am watching today = April 19, 2019
Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross
Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia
✔️ 'Whimsical, uninformed': French ambassador's parting verdict on Trump
✔️ Automakers invest heavily in electric vehicles despite still-low demand
✔️ Paranoia, lies, and fear: Trump’s presidency laid bare by Mueller report
✔️ Porsche CEO eyes cooperation with Chinese technology giants
✔️ Are we really too busy to eat well?
Human contact is now a luxury good
Did you see this?
"Screens used to be for the elite. Now avoiding them is a status symbol. Anticipated spending on experiences such as leisure travel and dining is outpacing spending on goods... a direct response to the proliferation of screens." -- Nellie Bowles - technology reporter for The New York Times.
Brigadoon saw screen-free engagement as a luxury since 2013.
At the start, Brigadoon has been powerpoint free and focused on conversation driven events allowing for maximum networking and learning.
Here are three ways to treat yourself to human contact luxury:
New North Korea weapon likely a short-range tactical missile: WSJ reports, a new weapon North Korea claims to have tested is likely a short-range guided missile aimed at striking battlefield targets with precision, say military experts, and not one that breaches a pledge to avoid testing.
International rivalries are driving Libya towards war, UN warns: FT reports, the risk of full-blown conflict escalates as military equipment pours into oil-rich north African state.
'Whimsical, uninformed': French ambassador's parting verdict on Trump: Guardian reports, outgoing French ambassador to the US has compared the Trump administration to the court of King Louis XIV, filled with courtiers trying to interpret the caprices of a “whimsical, unpredictable, uninformed” leader. Gérard Araud, who retires on Friday after a 37-year career that included some of the top jobs in French diplomacy, said Donald Trump’s unpredictability and his single-minded transactional interpretation of US interests was leaving the administration isolated on the world stage.
“When they say ‘America first’, it’s America alone. Basically, this president and this administration don’t have allies, don’t have friends. It’s really [about] bilateral relationships on the basis of the balance of power and the defense of narrow American interest.”
CIA shifts to focus more on Russia and Iran, director says: WSJ reports, the CIA in the past year has shifted resources to better understand nation-state adversaries such as Russia and Iran, the agency’s director said, suggesting they suffered from neglect in the post-2001 focus on terrorism.
China censors ban Leica name over Tiananmen Square video: FT reports, the German camera maker criticized for ‘Tank Man’ homage to photojournalists.
Leica draws China backlash with video invoking Tiananmen crackdown: Bloomberg, the prestigious camera maker is the latest foreign firm to spark a backlash.
China as the victim, once again...
See the full ad - here.
China invites North Korea to Belt and Road summit: AFP reports, China said Friday leaders from 37 nations and North Korean representatives will attend a summit for its Belt and Road Initiative next week as it hit back at criticism of the massive trade infrastructure project. Chinese President Xi Jinping's pet project is a $1 trillion programme that includes maritime, rail and road projects in Asia, Africa, and Europe.
China builds site to test autonomous cars in highway conditions: Bloomberg reports, state-backed Qilu Transportation Development Group Co. is using a section of an existing highway to create the test site in eastern Shandong province, a company spokesman said Thursday. Construction on the 26-kilometer-long testing site began April 12, and it is expected to start operating in September. Chinese carmakers and industry suppliers including component manufacturers are stepping up efforts to seize opportunities presented by the move toward self-driving capabilities. The stretch of highway being converted to a test site has three tunnels, one bridge, three toll-collecting points, and many slopes, Qilu said. In addition, the company will install lidar systems, sensors, weather-monitoring equipment, and intelligent traffic signs for data exchange between test vehicles, the road, and users.
Battle for .amazon domain pits retailer against South American nations: NYT reports, Amazon is the world’s biggest online retailer. It is also the world’s largest rain forest. The question is who owns the name. This is the core of an epic battle between the tech behemoth Amazon.com and eight South American countries that contain parts of the rain forest. At stake is the domain name .amazon, and who should control it on the internet.
Martin Wolf: Britain is once again the sick man of Europe: If treachery becomes part of the debate, there can only be total victory or total defeat.
Trump forces Brussels' hand on trade despite tariffs backlash: DW reports, Trump's threat of auto tariffs has finally spurred EU leaders into action on a new trade deal with Washington. As the US president seeks reelection next year, will Europe hold more clout in upcoming negotiations?
New North American trade deal modestly boosts US economy, trade panel finds: Reuters reports, the new North American free trade pact would modestly boost the US economy, especially auto parts production, but may curb vehicle assembly and limit consumer choice in cars, a hotly anticipated analysis from the U.S. International Trade Commission showed on Thursday. The report estimates that annual US real gross domestic product would increase by 0.35 percent, or $68.5 billion, on an annual basis compared to a NAFTA baseline, and would add 176,000 US jobs, while raising US exports. The ITC’s estimates are for year six of the trade deal, once it is fully implemented.
Indian man amputates finger after voting for wrong party: AFP reports, an Indian man chopped off his index finger in desperation after voting for the wrong party in the country's national election. In a video that has gone viral on social media, Pawan Kumar said he became confused by the symbols on the electronic voting machine and voted for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party instead of its regional rival in Uttar Pradesh state on Thursday.
New York rents hit all-time high as ownership loses appeal: FT reports, Trump’s tax code changes and property market nerves leave landlords with the upper hand.
FT - Editorial: Meat needs to justify its place on our tables: Yet we do not all have to go vegetarian to save our health or planet.
Automakers invest heavily in electric vehicles despite still-low demand: Reuters reports, last year, only about 2 percent of U.S. auto sales were comprised of full electric or plug-electric hybrid models, with Tesla Inc accounting for more than a third of those sales. The United States ranks seventh in EV sales as a percentage of overall sales, according to the International Energy Agency. Michelle Krebs, analyst at online marketplace Autotrader, expects EV sales to remain relatively modest until charging infrastructure, prices and battery performance improve. “It’s going to be a pretty long runway,” Krebs said, adding EV sales may first rise dramatically in government and corporate fleets.
Coming soon to China: the car of the future: AFP reports, global automakers are positioning for a brave new world of on-demand transport that will require a car of the future -- hyper-connected, autonomous, and shared -- and China may become the concept's laboratory. With ride-hailing services booming and car-sharing not far behind, the need for vehicles tailored to these and other evolving mobility solutions is one of the hottest topics among global automakers gathered for this week's Shanghai Auto Show.
‘Putin has won’: Mueller Report details how Russia interfered in 2016 election: WSJ reports, special counsel Robert Mueller’s report lays out in unprecedented detail how Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election and sought to help Donald Trump win the White House.
About 10 percent of the special counsel’s report is blacked out.
FT: Mueller details Trump efforts to block probe
Trump saw special counsel’s investigation as the ‘end’ of his presidency, report says.
Aides didn’t obey Trump orders to intervene.
Oh my god this is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.”
Bloomberg: Trump's obsession with self-preservation laid bare by Mueller
@realDonaldTrump: it was not necessary for me to respond to statements made in the “Report” about me, some of which are total bullshit & only given to make the other person look good (or me to look bad). This was an Illegally Started Hoax that never should have happened
Mueller finds no conspiracy, but report shows Trump welcomed Russian help: LAT reports, it's a pointed reminder of Trump’s willingness to seek any advantage against Hillary Clinton, even if help came from a hostile foreign government.
WP: Mueller lays out evidence against Trump on obstruction, Russia
The report from special counsel Robert Mueller details 10 “episodes” of potential obstruction of justice by Trump, alternating between dense legal analysis and jarring scenes of presidential scheming.
Paranoia, lies, and fear: Trump’s presidency laid bare by Mueller report: WP reports, the 448-page report reveals a vivid portrait of a president and his aides on the brink of obstructing justice.
Trump often said he didn’t remember - at least 37 mentions: Trump’s written responses to Mueller’s questions about Russian interference often contained some version of “I do not remember” or “I do not recall.” Trump did not agree to reply to questions on obstruction or events that occurred during the transition.
WP - Editorial: The Mueller report is the opposite of exoneration
George Conway: Trump is a cancer on the presidency. Congress should remove him. https://wapo.st/2L4iu3p
So it turns out that, indeed, President Trump was not exonerated at all, and certainly not “totally” or “completely,” as he claimed.
White House counsel John Dean famously told Nixon that there was a cancer within the presidency and that it was growing. What the Mueller report disturbingly shows, with crystal clarity, is that today there is a cancer in the presidency: President Donald J. Trump. Congress now bears the solemn constitutional duty to excise that cancer without delay.
A portrait of the White House and its culture of dishonesty: NYT reports, the report by Mueller shows a hotbed of conflict defined by a president who lies and tries to get his aides to lie for him. At one juncture after another, Trump gave in to anger in ways that turned advisers into witnesses against him.
Now that the Mueller report has been released, Congress faces the politically risky decision of what to do next.
Decision looms for Democrats: Try to impeach? NYT reports, House Democrats took the special counsel’s view of obstruction laws as a nod that Congress should make its own judgment.
Senior House Democrat: Mueller report the beginning, not the end: DW reports, Representative Jerrold Nadler has called the report a roadmap for further congressional investigations. He also accused Attorney General William Barr of undermining the Department of Justice to protect the president.
Garret Graff: The Mueller Report is much worse for Trump than Barr let on http://bit.ly/2KROw2c
House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler has already requested that Robert Mueller testify before Congress no later than May 23.
The role of WikiLeaks: Trump and most likely longtime political operative and Trump associate Roger Stone worked with the website on any information damaging to Hillary Clinton.
Trump declared himself exonerated and then departed for his resort in Florida to celebrate Easter. He left behind in the capital a much more complicated assessment.
Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman: The Mueller Report is 448 pages long. You need to know these 7 key things.https://nyti.ms/2KP21Qk
1. Trump did try to sabotage the investigation. His staff defied him.
2. So many lies. So many changed stories.
3. Fake news? Not so much.
4. No obstruction? Not so fast.
5. Evading an FBI interview proved a successful strategy.
6. No conclusive evidence of conspiracy, but lots of reason to investigate.
7. Imagine reading this report cold.
How underlings sought to capitalise on Trump’s rise: Mueller report documents attempts by Trump associates and Russians to profit from 2016 election. https://on.ft.com/2KSv2dR
Joe Biden is running for President: The Atlantic reports, the former vice president has finally decided he’s in, and he’s announcing in less than a week. Now he just has to finish putting a campaign together. http://bit.ly/2V98LN0
The former vice president will make his candidacy official with a video announcement next Wednesday, according to people familiar with the discussions who have been told about them by top aides.
Biden’s campaign will, at its core, argue that the response to Donald Trump requires an experienced, calm hand to help America take a deep breath and figure out a way to get back on track.
Congress to consider increase in tobacco-buying age to 21: WSJ reports, Senator Mitch McConnell plans to introduce legislation raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products. Public-health advocates and tobacco companies hope a rise from 18 would curb the use of e-cigarettes among youths.
Uber clinches $1 billion investment in self-driving-car unit: WSJ reports, Uber struck a deal with investors including SoftBank Group’s tech fund for a $1 billion investment in its self-driving-car unit as the ride-hailing company prepares for an IPO.
Porsche CEO eyes cooperation with Chinese technology giants: Bloomberg reports, Porsche AG is exploring joint projects with Chinese technology giants including Tencent Holdings Ltd., Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Baidu Inc. to expand digital offerings in its largest market and bolster sales. Country-specific features for voice recognition, navigation and integration of the ubiquitous WeChat messaging service will be developed locally, Porsche Chief Executive Officer Oliver Blume said in an interview in Shanghai this week. The manufacturer also signed an agreement to expand its research cooperation with Tongji University on Wednesday.
China’s mobile-phone giant in Africa: WSJ reports, investors are about to hear much more about Shenzhen Transsion, the world’s fourth-largest cellphone maker.
Shenzhen Transsion will be among the first batch of companies to list on Shanghai’s new board, which wants to become a stock market for the country’s best technology companies—essentially China’s take on Nasdaq. Founded in 2013, Transsion now sells almost every second mobile phone in Africa under its brands Tecno, itel and Infinix.
FT: Amazon to close China marketplace in shift to imported goods
Company says it has seen strong response from Chinese customers to cross-border sales.
China’s Luckin coffee raises $150m in push to overtake Starbucks: FT reports, Chinese coffee start-up Luckin has raised $150m from investors including US asset manager BlackRock in a funding round which values the company at $2.9bn, as it pushes to overtake Starbucks by number of outlets in China.
FTC eyeing Facebook’s Zuckerberg in privacy probe: WP reports, regulators investigating Facebook for mishandling its users’ personal information are exploring the chief executive’s past statements on privacy and weighing whether to seek new oversight of his leadership.
Restaurants are using an app to staff their kitchens: Bloomberg reports, pared helps owners fill vacancies in restaurants—where hiring and retention is hard—on a temporary basis.
Five movies bound to make noise at the Tribeca Film Festival https://on.wsj.com/2KQCia3
Framing John DeLorean
Are we really too busy to eat well? Hurried sandwiches and deskbound lunches have become the norm. But real meals are far from a waste of time. https://on.ft.com/2KQ49r6
Enjoy the ride + plan accordingly.